HS Football: Old Forge beats Carbondale Area in emotionally charged game

Oct. 28—OLD FORGE — T.J. DiMattia threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth to help lead Old Forge to a 33-10 victory over Carbondale Area in an emotionally charged Lackawanna Football Conference Division III game Friday night at Old Forge Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Cael Krushnowski added 142 rushing yards and a score for the Blue Devils (5-5 overall, 3-2 league). Defensively, Old Forge limited Carbondale Area to 116 total yards — 75 of which came on one play.

It was a game that saw the teams combine for 22 penalties, 193 penalty yards, had one coach ejected and an official walk off the field.

"Weirdest game I was ever a part of," said Old Forge coach Michael Schuback, who was celebrating his 52nd birthday. "But we came out on the winning end of it."

Old Forge opened the scoring late in the first quarter. A 65-yard run by Krushnowski moved the Blue Devils to the Carbondale Area 15. Three plays later, DiMattia hit Frankie Pero with an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 6-0 with 1:48 left.

Following a Carbondale Area punt, DiMattia and Pero connected again, this time on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Isiah Rodriguez added the extra point to make it 13-0 with 10:28 left in the second quarter.

Moments later is when the craziness ensued.

Carbondale Area (2-8, 1-4) was flagged for a personal foul penalty on a borderline late hit along the sidelines. Chargers coach Jeff Arthur vehemently argued the call and was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Arthur and official Tim Lavelle then got into a heated exchange that led to Arthur getting two more unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and tossed from the game. He was escorted from the field and went to sit in a car parked out beyond the end zone.

Apparently not happy that Arthur wasn't completely removed from the stadium, Lavelle decided to walk off the field. After a lengthy delay, the game resumed with just five officials.

"It's a high school football game. People's emotions get the best of them some times," said Carbondale Area athletic director Larry Gabriel III, who took over after Arthur was ejected. "I think that was everybody involved. It is what it is. We have all the respect for coach Schuback and his staff at Old Forge. They're tough football players. I'm proud of our team to keep on fighting after a situation like that, losing their head coach."

All the penalties gave Old Forge first-and-goal at the Chargers 1. A fired-up Carbondale Area defense stopped three consecutive sneak attempts before DiMattia finally crossed the goal line on the fourth. Rodriguez's kick made it 20-0 with 5:52 to go in the second.

In the final minute of the half, Carbondale Area gained some momentum heading into halftime. Francisco Roman intercepted a pass off a deflection and returned it 16 yards with an Old Forge personal foul penalty tacked on. That set up Collin Bailer's 25-yard field goal on the last play to cut the deficit to 20-3.

However, to open the second half, Old Forge put together a five-play, 50-yard scoring drive. DiMattia scrambled 34 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Chargers 41. On the next play, he hit Rodriguez with a 7-yard touchdown pass to make it 26-3 with 9:58 left in the third.

"Our receivers were able to get open and that was good," DiMattia said. "So it was just a matter of me being able to get in the right spots, make the right throw, make the right decision. I missed a few and that's on me. But the receivers did a great job of getting open and that's all I can ask."

On its ensuing possession, Carbondale Area answered when Daniel Gonzalez took a reverse 75 yards for a touchdown. Bailer's kick made it 26-10 with 8:50 left in the third.

The Chargers then forced Old Forge to punt and appeared to have some momentum. However, they fumbled and Old Forge's Will Wozniak scooped up the ball and returned it 14 yards to the Carbondale Area 8. Krushnowski scored from there on the next play and Rodriguez's kick capped the scoring with 5:29 left in the third.

"We're both very young football teams and there were some mistakes that allowed both teams to make a lot of plays," Schuback said. "But all in all, we handled some adversity. We did well with that."

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